Angry Birds goes medieval?
Has the ridiculously popular game Angry Birds gone to the Middle Ages? From this teaser video it looks like we might soon see a new version of the game in which Red, Chuck, Bomb, Terrance and other feathery friends are hurled at the bad piggies who have stolen their eggs.
Since it was first released in 2009, Angry Birds and its various spinoffs, which includes versions based on Star Wars and a Go-Kart racing game, have been downloaded more than two billion times. A feature film based on the game is in production and is scheduled to be released in 2016.
It seems this game will be first released in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We will keep you up-to-date on when it comes out.
Interview with Michael Hirst, creator of Vikings
This month's issue of DUJOUR
has a feature interview with Michael Hirst, the creator and writer of the hit TV series Vikings
, by Nancy Bilyeau:
If you walk outside your office for three blocks, you’ll pass at least 70 Vikings.” That was the pitch that award-winning writer Michael Hirst made to the History Channel—and it worked. Executives took the chance that a dramatic series on the lives of people who fought and loved more than 1,000 years ago would hook us today.
Vikings, back for Season Two on February 27, became the No. 1 new cable series of the year in its first season, averaging 4.3 million viewers. The fan base proved rabid about the series’ stars Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, Jessalyn Gilsig and George Blagden.
What makes Vikings stand out in the throng of historical films and television series is the simple yet compelling storytelling of Hirst, its creator and sole writer. This is far from his first foray into the past. Hirst wrote the screenplays for Elizabeth and its sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age, both starring Cate Blanchett, and then went on to create the very popular Showtime series The Tudors, which ran for four seasons.
We caught up with Hirst to find out what fuels his passion for authenticity, whether it’s a chaotic battlefield or quiet moments between husband and wife.
It's Ragnarok this Saturday! Try not to worry too much
The Jorvik Viking Festival in York, England is billing this Saturday as Ragnarok, the Norse-version of the apocalypse. They calculate that February 22nd will be the date when the Norse gods - Odin, Thor, Loki et al.- fight an epic battle that will leave the world destroyed.
The festival organizers are apparently not too serious about the events. The York Press reports
that during the day they will be hosting combat training sessions for the younger kids, and the "finale will see about 300 warriors gather in Dean’s Park for a march through the city from 1.30pm, before massing at the Eye of York at 6.45pm for the climactic battle."
NPR has sent this radio report back on what to expect:
If you are still worried, check out Judith Jesch's article on the University of Nottingham's website
, where she talks about the meaning of Ragnarok, which may be more peaceful than is seen in popular imagination. By looking at the meaning of the term ragnarok, the events foretold can be seen more as a ‘renewal of the divine powers’.
Jesch adds:If this meaning goes back to the pre-Christian period, as seems likely, then it sheds a whole new light on those gloomy old Vikings. Their mythology envisaged Ragnarok as a cleansing process, through which the gods could be reborn. This more positive view of Ragnarok would also have suited their Christian descendants (Iceland was converted around the year 1000 AD), who could interpret the renewal as being a rebirth into a whole new dispensation with a whole new kind of divine power. This attractive solution not only revises our understanding of the Viking world-view, but also explains how the story could successfully be reinterpreted by Christians, such as the newly-converted Vikings who in the tenth century erected a cross (depicted here) with scenes from both Ragnarok and Christian myth at Gosforth, in Cumbria.
Enjoy the day!
Is this a Viking Magic Wand?
For decades the experts at the British Museum believed that this item, discovered at a woman's grave from Norway was just a hook used in fishing. However, new research suggests that it was her 'magic wand' and that it was deliberately bent to destroy its power.The Times
newspaper reported that this item, a 90 cm long iron rod, was first brought to the British Museum in 1894. British Museum curator Sue Branning believes that it was probably a magical staff used to perform 'seithr', a form of Viking sorcery predominantly practiced by women.
She told The Times
: "These are magical practices, which we don't fully understand. It involves divination, prophecy, communication with the dead and making people do things. Our rod fits, in terms of its form, with a number of these rods that turn up in the 9th and 10th century in female burials. They normally take the form of these long iron rods with knobs attached to them."
The rod would have been 'ritually' destroyed in order to prevent the sorceress from rising from the dead, or to stop anyone else from using it. Branning adds, "When we hear about the Vikings we hear all about the powerful warriors, but now we know there were also powerful women. These women were very well respected, but they were quite feared as well. They may have been on the margins of society. You might not want to get close to them because they have this power. The sources we have describe them as wearing blue and black cloaks with gems attached."
Visitors to the British Museum will be able to see the artifact when the new Early Medieval Gallery reopens on March 27th. Click here to visit the British Museum website
New Minor in Medieval Studies programs offered at U.S. universities
|Don't worry - medieval studies is a little more gender balanced!|
The University of Arizona and the University of Connecticut have both added a Minor in Medieval Studies to their program offerings for undergraduate students. The Daily Wildcat
that the University of Arizona approved of the minor last December, after it was proposed by professors Fabian Alfie and Albrecht Classen. They were inspired by the creation of a minor in Hip-Hop Studies at the university to go ahead with their own.
Professor Classen tells the newspaper, "“[The minor is] trying to give students a sense of a certain cultural period. [This] allows [students] to combine — in a unique way — philosophy, religion, art history, literature and economics. There is a lot of flexibility, yet with a concrete focus on a cultural period.”Click here to read the article from the Daily Wildcat
Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut will offer their students to gain a minor in Medieval Studies by taking courses from over 11 departments. The Daily Campus
reports that the program is designed so that students take a wide variety of subjects.
Graduate student Brandon Hawk explains, “It encourages people to take classes in music, art history and other subjects. It provides a greater spectrum of a liberal arts education.”
Professor Fiona Somerset, who is one co-head of the program, finds that it will appeal to many types of students. “For aspiring novelists, it’s a great way to get an edge,” she said. “Much of the basis of our pop culture is in the middle ages. If you read fantasy, that’s medieval based.”Click here to read the article from the Daily Campus
Click here to see our page on Medieval Studies programs in the United States